- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2005

Home-schooling today

Each new year brings many opportunities and challenges, a fair characterization of what the home-school movement has faced over the past 10 years.

We are midway through the first decade of the 21st century, and home-schoolers have come a long way since the mid-‘90s.

Then, people questioned the socialization of home-schoolers. The myth of non-socialization is being put to rest. A new study from the National Home Education Research Institute shows that home-schoolers are growing up to be mature, productive citizens.

Home-schooling has grown from about 1.2 million children 10 years ago to just more than 2 million today.

Home-schoolers regularly score higher than their public school counterparts on standardized tests and compete successfully with the best students in the world. Home-schoolers continue to gain entry to college and succeed in the workplace.

Home-school families save taxpayers an average of more than $7,000 per child per year because they are not using public education services.

In the mid-‘90s, it was difficult to find a full range of curriculum providers. In 2005, thousands of providers vie for a piece of the $750 million market. If the growth in home-schooling continues at its recent yearly rate of 7 percent to 15 percent, the home-school market will break the $1 billion barrier in a few years.

Opportunities are opening on every front. In the mid-‘90s, there were only a few fledgling sports teams for home-schooled students and hardly any organized leagues. Ten years later, home-schoolers have two national basketball tournaments, a small football league and a softball league. Several home-school athletes are competing for positions in college leagues.

Ten years have made a tremendous difference. An objective observer would conclude that private one-on-one tutoring is one of the best educational options available.

More parents are considering home-schooling and are seeing the results of a home education. In the mid-‘90s, the number of home-school graduates was small, as many children were still in schooling. Now, more than 50,000 home-school graduates are working in a wide range of jobs or continuing their educations in college. These graduates are succeeding and are the final proof that a home education works.

Despite this incredible progress, challenges remain for home-schoolers. Education authorities continue to harass home-school families.

School districts lose an average of $7,000 per child per year once a child is removed from public school. Regrettably, some school administrators are threatened by the loss of revenue. Others are still reluctant to accept the idea that noncertified teachers can be effective.

Consequently, many families who choose home-schooling continue to be challenged and turn to the Home School Legal Defense Association to smooth their transition from public school.

Some social workers are predisposed against home-schoolers and attempt to make unconstitutional intrusions into the family home. HSLDA fields hundreds of calls per month from member families who have had negative contacts with state authorities as a result of home-schooling.

The past 10 years have seen many changes. Home-schooling is coming of age. It seems, however, that it will take much longer for entrenched opponents to realize their error.

When state agencies uniformly recognize the success of the home-school movement, America’s parents will have increased confidence in this method of education and America’s children will be educated in a way that will prepare them for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at 540/338-5600; or send e-mail to media@hslda.org.

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